Sunday, December 31, 2006 Wins The 2006 Best Blog Awards

Further to my posting earlier during this month,I am glad to announce that the verdict is finally out!

The esteemed panel has summed it very well “ Joel Cheesman is not a recruiter but is deeply immersed in the industry with a heavy slant on SEO and how this can help recruiters and companies get more people hired. Joel’s blog is a great example of how blogs can be used and is an absolute must read for people involved in the recruiting business. “

The final results of the popular votes are given here.
I am glad to quip that my blogging guru Gautam Ghosh has logged in the second highest number of votes, while being the single largest (non US) blogger!! Am also glad that some of the readers of this blog have contributed to make this the TOP TEN recruitment blogs..the sixth to be precise for the year 2006:-)!

I thank you for the encouragement…and would love to hear how I could make this exchange more meaningful in 2007!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Country Manager opening in India- KPO based in Delhi region

It is almost a couple of months since we first started looking at some exciting profiles for a 'returning Indian ' Country Manager opening for a KPO - the search is almost over!!

Well –now we are open to those candidates who are also based in India-and have a strong operational exposure. Some one who has managed large teams (above 150 professionals) and willing to work US work hours based in India. Ideally the person would have familiarity with the dynamics of an offshore/onsite relationship.

Professionals with process improvement (six sigma) skills –and those who can assure profitable service excellence are invited to reach me offline- so that I can fill them in with the necessary inputs.

We plan to finalise the selection process by mid January !!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Global Mindset-Indian roots!

Coming just a few days after my last post on the need for ‘returning Indian teachers’, I was fortunate to attend a function of an interesting business school-the Great Lakes Institute of Management at Chennai

One could not believe the event began with a cameo role by Indra Nooyi-a surprise guest speaker visiting town on a personal visit. Ms Nooyi commended the institute for having among its curriculum- a course in speaking Chinese Mandarin for students-as a right step in preparing to make a mark in the globalised economy. She also felt it was time for academia and research to come with more contemporary methods of ‘predicting future behaviour’ of consumers, by observation, and ethnography & dumping the traditional methods of qualitative research!

It was really heartening to note that the institute chose to put Ms Nooyi’s time and advice –more important than rituals-and it was only after she had left, that the event had the formal gestures of lighting the lamp –and the prayers ! And nothing was more Indian –that the Chairman of the school Prof Bala V Balachandran-calling his students ‘nephews and nieces’-and the latter reciprocating and addressing him as Uncle- as a tribute to the Indian business family format!

Prof Bala was advocating customer focus and strategic alliances to battle the inevitable competition!

The first international conference was an unique one for all the speakers- eminent names in the education in US-were all of Indian origin-and more so, as all of them have been spending lot of time and energy to handle as visiting faculty, often full courses for the institute-devoting a lot of their personal time and experience.

Almost as if on cue to Ms Nooyis speech, Dr Seenu Srinivasan expounded the technique of a using ‘conjoint analysis’ as a method to predict future behaviour. His case study of analyzing 12 different parameters in the choice of a digital camera ( for ef resolution, price, size, brand, shape, videochip, etc)- using log linear multiple regression –he showed the gathering how one could almost predict –upto 60.6% of the accuracy- of the final decision that could be taken!

Dr Rajen Guptas query on Indian software industry’s growth was impressively handled by Prof J Ramachandran hinting that companies had conquered ‘liability of origin’ by gaining legitimacy by linking to key institutions ( eg CMM SEI level certification by Carnegie Mellon that was embraced by the top IT services companies in a bid to transform the craft of software into a engineering domain) and improving reputation capital and not just depending on financial models ( listing on NASDAQ and NYSE gave India a good headstart! )

Prof Paul Prabhakar spoke about the DNA of a sustainable business enterprise –while there were interesting case studies/talks by Dr Suj Krishnaswamy, Dr Sridhar Moorthy, Dr Rama Shankar, Dr Siva Nathan, Dr Sudhakar Balachandran, Dr Ashok Vasudevan and Dr Neharika Vohra!

It was really enlightening to be part of a charged atmosphere- am sure the 20 odd presentations by other India based research scholars were also inspirational-and truly reflective of the theme of the conference.

The India story is just the beginning ...

Friday, December 22, 2006

MBA students-Preparing for tomorrow - Learning or Earning?

Should the premier institutes be preparing professionals-for MNCs to employ? The input is the cream of India- trained and conditioned by the best of research: shouldnt the output be spawning entrepreneurs?
Am intrigued with the media hype around campus is a very few who opt out of the placement exercise to pursue their own dreams… and make the difference!!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit a top ten MBA college –and a great learning for me.

The ICFAI Business School ( has recently moved to a sprawling 100 acres campus –about 35km away from Hyderabad. One could see a lot of buzz all around –and I was there, exploring if our firm could engage some students for their summer internship program (SIP).

It has all the trappings –smart youngsters strapping laptops, growing infrastructure, faculty-experienced and visiting , bandwidth connectivity..itsnt a surprise that its among the best in India.

Somehow I came back with an uneasy feeling -there is a distinct lack of imagination and ownership when it came to SIP! Over 800 of the brightest youth-from across the country-a good mix of experience and promise-they seem to have all their future plans well laid out..atleast in the rehearsed pitch at the interview!

The missing link- the vital piece SIP which wd give the students a 3 month insight into the practical world –how businesses actually work-the dynamics of interpersonal management, chance to experiment with some of the hypothesis they have nurtured…

While it is easy for me to generalize-having met only a handful of candidates- to me the fact that they were chosen among the 800..was a good enough sample size.

1. the students were all specialized in HR- as recruitment is a subset!

I would have thought a recruitment firm is as much as a business as any other. There are avenues for students to learn about business development, marketing, positioning, streamlining operations, improved automation of processes, financial analysis, corporate name it..even entrepreneurial development. There is as much need for strategy –as some smart tactics..and especially in a growing global economy- and when the vagaries are very much similar irrespective of size!

2. Despite there being close to a 100 in HR, guess most of them were looking for big brands

Surely that would help them decorate the resume –and help them in their final placement. Some of them were waiting for a great ‘preplacement’. Big brands mean better stipends. Wasn’t this a good opportunity to look at the content of the project- and try and learn the nuances of a growing business? After all how much would you be allowed to tinker around –with systems of well established MNCs with processes almost sacrosanct.

Who is to bell the cat..the academia? The industry? The alumni network? I invite comments from you!!

Gartner revises IT spending predictions down in 2007- India jobs galore?

The average predicted IT spending increase for organizations across the world in the coming year is lower than what analysts previously forecast, according to a report by Gartner Inc.
In general, the forecasts by industry reflect the overall penetration of IT in each industry, as well as the perception of how critical IT is -- whether it is viewed
1.strategic partner to the business or more of a commodity or
3.just a cost centre

I think it is time for Indian corporates to stand up and get counted!There is enough opportunities for all Indian companies-and not just get psyched by the possible lower spend!
While the biggies should go up the value chain..helping their clients changing business models and adding new products/services, the mid size companies would do well by helping their clients optimizing some of the day to day operations.
And for those professionals in the US/Europe wanting to relocate to India-here is a great opportunity to position yourself as the catalyst for this transformation.

Retail boom in India-Jobs offered before one joins BSchool!!

In a bid to woo best young talent, HR managers are competing hard and innovatively!!

Some of the tactics in vogue:

-arrangement with some of them to absorb 100% output
-reserving seats for employees wanting to upgrade –and giving sabbatical and promotion to encourage employees
-short term courses for self development

There is a strong need for doing things ever so this fast changing world!

One of our clients –the METRO group hired people for their Hyderabad distribution centre –about 4-6 months ahead of the launch-and sent them to Bangalore for on the job orientation. With people coming in from different industries and cultures, it was very imperative for them to ‘unlearn old habits and learn new practices and best practices”

Monday, December 18, 2006

Recruitment is passé- Talent Acquisition too??.

At the monthly meeting of ERA Hyderabad chapter , we had Mr Suresh Anubolu, the Director Talent Acquisition of Computer Associates, for Asia Pacific and Japan –speaking about “Global trends in Talent Acquisition” .

In an interesting session, he described how challenging it is hire great talent, and enumerated on some of the steps taken by them. Interesting takeaways were

-Recruitment is a transaction, we need to look at Talent acquisition.
-It is no longer about filling numbers, but ‘refilling’ with better hires.
-All employees aren’t equal- the talented employees are often 5-6 times more productive than mediocre performers-and it is imperative to treat them differently.
The session set me thinking- is there going to paradigm shift in hiring required in future?
I was taken back to my MBA classes in the eighties-and the classics of the guru of marketing management Philip Kotler. What I recall, marketing was all about understanding and and satisfying customer needs-and it went beyond sales ( which was just a transaction that involved exchange of services/goods). Marketing emphasised the need for market research, advertising, sales promotion –not just sales.
It gives interesting connotations.
If Sales =recruitment, then is Talent acquisition= marketing management?
Sales promotion = employee referrals?
Distribution= mgmt of recruitment partners
Channel management= management of jobsites/campus hires/walkins/alumni rehire

One is almost tempted to write a thesis..comparing media mix, pricing (compensation)….

Would the future recruitment team- which has in the recent past delinked itself from HR –and is also renamed staffing- growing into a ‘product management function’?? Shouldnt it be extended to branding, market segmentation, positioning….?
In this age..there cant be a better ambassador than a happy employee. Talent management seems more appropriate?

India needs 'returning Indian teachers' most urgently!

Atanu Deys note on Liberalize Indian Education questions the feel good factor of the “India shining’ myth.

"If there is any flow which can be termed as “brain-drain,” it is the one-way migration of those who form the cornerstone of a modern economy, namely, top-class highly educated researchers and teachers, and who not just make the university but are the university. Ultimately they are the ones who train the thousands of bright young men and women who go on to build society in all its aspects—social, commercial, political, and educational. "

I think he has hit the nail-Teachers have to be respected in India-and must be among the best paid professionals!!
Ironically today -compared to all other professionals-where the government salaries are a fraction of what the private sector offers, the teaching profession that finds itself in an unenviable situation where the private sector pays much lesser than the ‘UGC scale’!!

So its a situation where one exhausts all other options -before taking up a teaching profession-which at best again, is a stopgap arrangement -as one is constantly looking for greener pastures elsewhere. Most often -it is those unemployed alumni who come back as lecturers..

Even in the premier institutes, those graduating from campus placements probably earn more than their illustrious mentors/guides/professors whose qualifications, research and teaching experience- are hardly as commercially rewarding!

One is shocked to see the facilities (eg lab) of the innumerable capitation fee colleges that have been allowed to mushroom under the garb of liberalisation- most only have imposing buildings to boast of-nothing else graces the portals!It is not a surprise that with so many lakhs of engineers graduating, hardly 15% are employable-another bunch similar trainable!!

Very little interaction between the corporate world and the academia- again increasing the gulf between the desired level of exposure and those skills available!
Yes, there is a greater demand for a robust education system to help build the nation more than any of the MBAs and software engineers coming back to India!!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

IIT-BTechs: On the way to millionaires at 22

Campus placements have begun at the IITs in India

Am sure while the media blitz causes a lot of heartburns across the readers, it helps if one reads between the lines:

1.These are typically for jobs by Management consultancies/Financial services majors for positions abroad!

2. As far as domestic jobs are concerned the the average package for the domestic positions now stand in the Rs 6-8 lakh range, slightly better than the previous year.

3.The average is slated to come down, as more of the lower-paying companies will participate in the ensuing phases of the placement drive. This year the higher a company’s salary –the earlier it is allowed to come on campus.Last year on, the institute included other parameters such as company's reputation, salary offered and job profile for the first slot.

Will these salaries pre-empt the brightest from pursuing higher studies abroad –or will stem the flow of of students wanting to join the IIMs??
Any idea of what these salaries at entry level -will impact on those at middle and senior management levels?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Global talent shortage- the era for evolving business paradigm

Pardon me for using the cliché- the geographical borders are disappearing! Personally- this fact is dawning on me more than ever as I have been blogging for a few months now-in a bid to reach out to the passive job seekers.

As a by product, I have been increasingly interacting with fellow headhunters, recruitment firms from across the globe !

“We are investigating whether one can trace professional Commodity Traders (mainly Oil, Gas, Chemicals) in India for our Clients in Europe. There is a shortage of talented traders in view of the rise of energy related trading by Utility Companies & Hedge Funds. Banks too are expanding their brokerage activities, more specifically in Carbon Certificates (often oil & gas related).”

“we are currently working on a VP role for an American firm here in Malaysia. The candidate will be based in either of the following locations: Japan, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand and of course Malaysia.The firm in question is a public listed company in the US (and also in Malaysia) who specializes in broadband communications.”

Dave Mendoza and Shally Steckerl offer their services for Speaking and Training engagements on Passive Sourcing for Talent and Social Relationship Networking for Talent on a national and international basis

A leading IT company in Kolkota – want some Italian Linguistic Specialists with Experience in Technical Translations / Interpretations –and willing to travel to Italy often!

Is this the way forward??

I am reminded of a presentation a few months ago at the Executive Recruiters Association. (ERA) conference.Dr Kandula Srinivas, the Director HR of SASKEN was open to hiring telecom professionals from Europe to be employed in Bangalore!

Some of us member firms of ERA – are coming together on a platform –eg RETAILBLITZ to help large & emerging retail players entering the Indian market- by offering a pan India reach –and offer offline screening services –and thereby leverage on the strength of a network of boutique recruitment firms in both tier I and tier II cities !

Vinay Talwar advocates an "Alliance of Firms" which operates under one brand globally but firm retains its independent identity too.

Are we gearing up adequately??

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Nominated for the blogging awards!

It gives me great pleasure to share that two Indian blogs are in the running for the 2006 Best Blog awards. One is Gautam's blog (my personal blogging consultant) and the other one is this blog.

We need all the help we can get. So just click the survey and choose "Gautam Ghosh's Blog" and "JobOptions Blog" if you want to vote for us.

You can choose a total of 5 blogs to nominate for the awards. All the blogs listed there would be great reading for employers, jobseekers as well as executive search consultants.

I must confess that I haven't come across all of them earlier and therefore have some additional reading to do :-)

Thanks a lot !

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What would be a good salary for an expat -Country Manager for Indian operations?

Yesterday I had a brief and crisp phonecall from an senior executive out of the blue. It was an outstation call-and from possibly an expat. I was –almost stumped –when he went on to ask… ‘what would be a good salary for a person to head an Indian operations?’

Well, the easiest and most predictable response from any consultant would be –"it depends"!!

But then, since I wasn’t expecting the call- my basic instincts sought for more details. May I know about the company ? Whats the business you are in? how senior is the position? To whom does the person report to? Where?

The answers promptly attended to, I blurbed out- what kind of seniority do you need? And what are the numbers (US dollar equivalent) have you already been advised?

I went on to tell the gentleman that perhaps he really neednt pay so much !! The gentleman then proceeded to thank me-with a promise to revert back later this week.

Flashback over!

Now that I have had more time to ruminate on it, I thought its time for me to articulate my thoughts and invite comments from those in the know.

Personally my premise-

1/ the company seemed to be in the ITES space. Cost Arbitrage is critical.
2/ it depends on the size of the company-and the growth plan it has. Which stage of the lifecycle is it in India?
3/ different skills and abilities are required for start up or ramping up phase..and the consolidation stage. (And if all have to happen at the same time, time to call Superman!)
4/ while knowledge of the domain is taken for granted, it is man management –and ability to relate to the team most critical.

Pray, I don’t even know if an expat with 20 yrs experience elsewhere in the world is the right person!!

While salary is indeed a corporate policy-and most companies have a definite stand on what percentile of the market they ought to be-am I right in having advocated that one neednt pay more than 75% of the salaries prevailing in US for similar positions??

US MBA -a panacea for India's growing hunger for managers?

Steve Hamm of Business Week in an article earlier this week
India faces a slew of business challenges, including its infrastructure deficit, salary inflation in the IT sector, and high attrition rates in IT and BPO. But perhaps its biggest HR challenge is developing and deploying the next generation of middle managers. With the top Indian IT companies growing into sprawling global behemoths with 60,000 to 80,000 employees, large numbers of middle managers are needed to keep these huge organizations running efficiently. Right now, most of these managers are grown on the job. But, for the industry to continue to flourish, India will need to graduate far more high-quality MBAs than it does now. "
He prescribes
“ The US has a great higher education system. India has a fast-growing private sector hungry for young managers. It’s a true win-win—but only if the barriers come down and the American institutions make bold moves into the Indian market. “

Isnt this too a simplistic solution?

Me thinks an high quality MBA is great only for youngsters to have a very good insight into how a business works-and more importantly-to appreciate how different functions need to be integrated to leverage on the latent strengths of the organization-to be able to be proactive in a globally competitive world. (and,ofcourse, the alumni network helps in opening many doors right thru one's career and is perhaps the single most critical take away !! )

It is operational excellence and the performance on the job that’s more relevant. And especially in the Indian context-where even –where the core strategy/marketing/finance roles are still the bastion of the corporate office elsewhere- and it is only the R&D/operations/back office/ support /transactional chunks are being outsourced

There are a lot of unsung MBAs in non IT/non ITES industries-who are perhaps languishing in the lesser glamorous industries..who would be a greater fit for the ramping up/consolidation phase of most of the MNCs now present in India!

Till then, I suspect-most MNCs would look at the familiar is a great boost for returning Indians/ those aspiring of relocating to India!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Desperately Seeking India’s Google

Just came across a desipundit post by Atanu Dey thinking aloud of the factors which result in successful businesses and dwells on the possibility of the next major Information Technology company being of an Indian origin.

He feels "people with vision create universities in a conducive environment created by wise government; over time, the universities become centers of excellence; finally the universities give birth to Googles. Miss any of the elements in the sequence, and you will not find a Google, no matter how hard you search nor how devoutly you wish."

Ramki attributes society and culture - a society that accepts failures while doing new things and not term them as an outcast. How many of the great inventions have come from UK or the other places that has been mentioned? In India we live more with the fear of failure than anything else. That is one of the reasons for mediocrity and lack of hunger to create new things

There are more interesting comments being posted even as I write…the number of PhDs, student -tutor ratio at top institutes, is technology the only route?...

it’s becoming a great read!

Friday, December 08, 2006

FAB companies scouting abroad for managerial talent for India

Todays Economic Times has an article on this. Cant see an online link as yet!

The gist is as follows

  • chip manufacuting in India is in the nascent stage with only Semindia having started some work. Couple of more companies are waiting got the Govts semiconductor policy to come out before setting up shop here.
  • there is not much talent in wafer mfg space planned –and so recruiters are eyeing people from Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and even the US for hiring managers! It is estimated that 8000 openings are expected in 2007- of which about 2500 will be in managerial levels!
  • companies that have evinced interest are NRI Rajendra Singh led consortium India Electronics manufacturing company (IEMC), Korean led consortium lead by June Min in Hyderabad and NRI Deven Vermas consortium Hindustan Semiconductor Company.

I was fortunate to attend the meeting earlier this year, when TiE Hyderabad announced a special interest group when the India Semiconductor Association launched its Hyderabad office . Ms Poornima Shenoy President ISA –feels that the first level of managers will have to come from other countries..or Indians coming back from abroad!!

While there have been hiccups regarding Semindia's foray into Hyderabad since, I would like to believe its only a matter of time..before the scene HOTS up.

I shall be glad to connect with those desirous of knowing more.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

India 2.0?? Venture capitalists see a Silicon Valley in the making??

As I was just about to call it a day, I came across this article published earlier this week in the Silicon Valley's newspaper Mercury News -it is the first of the four articles written by Mercury News reporter John Boudreau.

While it does predict the ‘elephant has begun to dance’, and goes on to predict India's rise as a technological powerhouse, I am a little skeptical.

To me, the ecosystems just don’t seem to be right as yet..not at least for another few years to come! There is no single community willing to display deferred gratification!!

- the brightest of them all..the IIT and IIM alumni are still clamouring for campus placements. The media goes overboard in highlighting the dollar salaries of the handful of ‘chosen ones’-and that probably inspires many others to the lure! If these “CATs” aren’t backing their own instincts and thriving to create their own ventures, and destinies, pray, who will?
- there aren’t enough success stories of ‘succesful Indian entrepreneurs in India’ to evangelise the fact that the brightest elsewhere started their own firms!!
- The poster boys (and girls) of the Silicon valley successes have turned their eyes on India- as VCs and not as Angel investors /seed capital funding professionals. There is a predominant focus on chasing globally scaleable products in the technology space..while almost almost ignoring the growing Indian market space

- It is another matter that most foreign VCs are looking at Private Equity funding- as a safer medium- with an eye on the IPO route in a couple of years! One can almost count the instances of such portfolio companies receiving second and third round funding.

-Companies in the ‘product space’ are out numbered by those in the ‘services space’!

-there just aren’t enough ‘readymade talent’ graduating from academia –forcing companies to spend months of inhouse training. The large hiring stories one hears of..of MNCs/ Indian companies hiring thousands of engineers- are predominantly for the ‘services sector”. With too many ‘easy jobs chasing undergraduates’ companies are even lowering the bar!!

It would be interesting if one could gets ones hands on the actual percentage of graduates going on to do- post graduation- and doctorates in the recent years!! Can anyone give us any pointers?

I for one, would love to rate this post as a 'bloggers fatigue' -being the third post for the day :-)!!

Returning from the US....What salary can one expect in India??

Earlier today, I was pointed to a post on ‘how much money do you need in India for a good lifestyle’!!

It makes an interesting reading..comparing notes on the various aspects of costing a home!

As a recruiter I have always been asked if there is a formula to convert ones US salary and reckon how much to expect in India!

And my standard reply..has been –‘please do not convert a dollar as 45rupees-but more around Rs 9 ( going by the famous United Nations theory of Purchasing power parity!)

But a more indicative pointer is that one can expect abt 20-30 % of the US salary for junior and middle management positions. For EDA, chip design and higher end skills this could go to 40%. And in those one –off senior management positions –a la R&D or Engineering Head- the Country Manager positions –it could go in the range of 60-70% of the last drawn US salary.

This has also been in consonance with the concept of essentially it is driven by cost arbitrage, and most companies talk of a cost of operating in India as about one third of that in the US!!

But is a 100k salary in the east coast same as someone earning the same in the Silicon Valley??

The debate rages on…:-)!

India Inc finds talent shortage for senior management positions?

A report in the New York Times earlier this week laments about a talent shortage that is becoming acute at the high end.

For a moment, it all seemed very familiar to me. Did I blog about the similar topics about 6 weeks ago ?

Interesting to read as it does give quite a few quotes and examples, the gist is as follows:

- India Inc’s top executives are being wooed from all directions as its economy booms.
-Industries that find top talent in short supply - engineering, technology, drug and manufacturing companies , retailing, financial services.
-Compensation levels in India have risen strikingly in the last couple of years-faster than the annual general market increases of 16 to 17 percent.
-many search specialists report that only one in three vacant top-level slots can be filled. Even the time taken to fill senior positions has doubled to 120 days.

The solution?

- the net is being cast for more than just overseas executives of Indian origin — a category referred to as boomerang professionals
- Americans and Europeans with an Indian connection who want to come to India “because they feel this is where all the action is,”! In a sign of a maturing job market, companies in software, semiconductors, telecommunications, airlines and hospitality are looking at foreign talent.
-Many companies, meanwhile, are already betting on potential and are hiring rising talent.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Indian recruitment industry -A billion dollar industry and growing!!

A recent study done by ERA , heralds the ‘recruitment industry ‘ in India.

The Executive Recruiters Association ( represents the executive recruitment firms of India, and has amongst its members the top 100 firms handling selection, staffing and search business in India. With over 100, 000 employees and associates employed by the ERA members, across domains, the highlights have been

• Both Indian & MNC co’s members
• Members acquired by Transnational co’s
• Competition to Co-opetition - Knowledge sharing
• Conducting conferences of Mutual interest
• Representations on Public policy issues relating to the industry
• Ethics Chair for Dispute Resolution
• CEOs Sounding Board
• Sharing of common issues

The Way forward?

• Collaboration with similar associations worldwide(REC -UK; ASA; ITAA)
• Industry Academic collaboration
• ERA –Industry Association
• Corporate ERA long term relationships

As a proud member of the ERA, I shall be glad to give pointers to anyone who wishes to reach me offline!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Gaming industry in India- all set to attain escape velocity??

Yesterday, the TiE Hyderabad had arranged a seminar on “Gaming trends “ . For my generation, whose exposure was primarily to the ‘real world ‘ games, the session was simply eye opening. Apart from an occasional solitaire and sudoku that I play on the computer, the challenges of the Xbox, the multiplayer online gaming opportunities, the backend programing of ‘non character players’ in the rendering of gaming content and creativity..was simply mindboggling!! So when it was predicted it would be a 350 million USD market in India by 2010, I was transported to a different world!!

Prady Kuna orchestrated a discussion around the gaming business and gave some insights into the future. Prasad of Kido software Prasad of Kidosoftware spoke about role of AI in the Games Development-Modern gaming consoles pack so much computing power that it is now practical to develop realistic characters that display and mimic their real world counter parts including humans. Rajiv of Green Gold spoke about the scope of creating original Indian animation content. He has developed recent animation hits on Cartoon Network such as Vikram-Betal and Krishna

Salient points that I could take away

1. 60% of games studios outsource today, with this figure projected to rise to 90% by 2008 this presents Indian developers a handful of opportunities.

2. Gamers around the world are looking for new and differentiate content, Indian companies can avail this opportunity and build video games for the global audience.
3. Among the entertainment media, today the top three avenues are Music, Movies and Gaming. With increasing usage of mobile phones, it is likely that mobile gaming would improve penetration, and is likely to play a more important share.

4. While there is an acute shortage of talent-both in the creativity and technology side, the general impression is that the present & future generation of programmers, who have played games as teenagers, would be more passionate and so the vertical is just waiting to take off!!

5. Expenditure on children –has increased three fold in the last 6yrs in India. An indicative trend is the ‘per capita chocolate consumption’ in India that has increased from 200grams to 600 grams from 2000 todate! Compared to the 6kg that the developed countries boast of, India is very much in the nascent stage!

6. And finally-as the economy of a nation improves, there is more to be more spending power in gaming ( a la growth of arts and culture during the reign of the great kings –as a function of the buoyant prosperity!)

I am informed NASSCOM is having a special session on Animation and Gaming segments. The TiE Hyderabad chapter is mulling a special interest group on gaming, and so please stay tuned for opportunities opening up in the sector!!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Metro Cash n Carry opens Hyderabad centre!-Pan India roll out soon!

Yesterday, we were invited to a function when Metro Cash and Carry announced the opening of its distribution center in Hyderabad- the third in India after the first two in Bangalore way back in 2003. The centre opens today.

The short function included an address by the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Dr Y Rajasekhar Reddy and a welcome note by Mr Harsh Bahadur MD of Metro.

Calling it a ‘self service wholesale format’, Mr Bahadur mentioned that they are embarking on a pan India roll out..with the Kolkota and Mumbai centres being ready by April and July 07. They are also at advanced stages in identifying land in Coimbatore, Chennai, Pune –among other cities. He said that the roll out facilitates

-infrastructure setting up the supply chain in place
-employment in large numbers to localites

The Hyderabad centre apparently provides employment to over 600 staff, and the CM handed over appointment orders to 4 of them.

For Team Options, it was a very special day-for we are instrumental in helping hiring more than two-thirds of the Operational staff-at the Floor and Department managers levels at Hyderabad!! The challenges included 'buyer' profiles across food, meat & poultry, fresh vegetables and dairy products...
The function was well attended by corporates like Agrotech, ITC, and Wilmar, apart from other service providers.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A revolution in India for jobs in Retail and Agriculture...??

I came across Steve Hamms blog -where in he perhaps cant believe Mukesh Ambani’s dream doing “with Indian agriculture what the Indian tech companies have done to the global tech services industry—undercut the market with lower costs and lower prices.”

Steve wonders “That’s going to be one incredible act to follow”

Well, I am of the opinion that Mr Mukesh Ambani's plans for connecting the Indian farmer to the global consumer isnt far fetched-am sure its bound to be the foundation on which the Indian agricultural producers will become worldclass in time!!

1. the agriculturist in India has had to battle the vagaries of the weather and the ‘economies of scale’ in managing the produce of the crops.
2. poor infrastructure – be in transport or storage systems –havent helped the shelf life either.
3. poor returns meant no access or inclination for adoption of best practices. Ironically, because of poor MIS, the farmer even didn’t know which crop to cultivate –and would thereby go by looking at the ‘best prices in the previous season’!! We have seen so many cases of a farmer shifting from one crop to another -little realizing that it was all a case of the supply-demand equation-and each time he wd end up producing more than what was required!!

As a Hyderabadi customer, I can see the retail revolution in fruits and vegetables happening around me in the last few months! ITCs echoupal was the first entrant. Reliance has a bunch –both their own units as well as franchises. Our erstwhile CM Mr Chandrababu Naidu's Heritage group is launching abt 20 outlets in the coming month. The German MNC Metro- though in the B2B business –is launching its Hyderabadi distribution centre later this week (30th)! The prices of vegetables has significantly come down in the recent past. The latest rumour in the market is that Pantaloon groups Mr Biyani would enter the market and insulate us from the fluctuating prices of vegetables-by giving fixed prices for a certain period!!

Why am I bullish?

-Large tracts of agricultural lands have already been leased by large corporates, so that they can achieve best ROI by using the best practices-be it the seeds, the agri inputs, better land management facilities.

-companies like ITCs echoupal inititiatives have helped the rural farmer to have access to computers, internet, keep track of the market prices and be generally aware of the ‘what could be’!

-companies like Mahindra Shublabh have been creating the ecosystem for better management !

-I remember listening to Air Deccans Capt Gopinaths- next dream- start a fleet of cargo planes- that can airlift agricultural produce from across 400 airports ( commercially even one fourth aren’t used today by the passenger flights!)- and hence help reach markets in quick time

-Am sure MNC retails groups are knocking the doors of the government – promising to set up huge refrigerated storage systems across the country to help better shelf life..

-Once the jobs are on offer, its only a matter of time when we can see people flocking to short term in retail or sourcing, or even customer management. Who wouldn’t want to have a well paying job right in the neighbourhood of his home??

It is all happening …and a matter of time.

PS-For those skeptical- here are my thoughts :As a recruiter -who has seen the evolution of the Indian software professional during the last 15yrs, may I just do a quick flashback into what has happened in the last 2 decades:

-would you believe there werent even a handful of colleges that had computer science as an elective in 1985??
-IBM had just left India in late seventies, and Computer Maintenance Corporation (CMC) had a few hundred professionals from the legacy? It is ironical CMC concentrated on hardware and TCS was to build on the boom that happened thanks to the mainframes being replaced by PCs!!
-Liberalisation happened in early nineties and the MNCs came and saw the Indian potential
-late nineties meant that the world started inviting Indian software professionals to combat the Y2K problem.
-the dotcom boom and post 9/11 –the outsourcing boom has made the “India component’ a considerable force.
-Talent wise, there was always a huge population –but the triggers were surely the education system –both mainstream, and the parallel short term courses by NIIT, Aptech-which evangelized the career of a software professional-by throwing open institutes practically in every lane of the major cities. The lure of a foreign posting and a dollar salary in quick time was just the trigger needed to attract the right attention from the supply side!!

And now that we in India aren’t seeing enough engineers to satisfy the appetite of the ever growing IT services company, companies are going the graduate way….

Friday, November 24, 2006

Boom in real estate..and Infrastructure jobs in India!!

The recent months have seen a spurt of action in the infrastructure industry- be it the airports, highways or the sanction of over a 150 SEZ ( special economic zones ) across India. The country is witnessing a boom in all the segments- commercial, residential, retail (malls and multiplexes) and hotels.

There have been a spate of IPOs which have either hit the market or have been planning to raise money thru the public private routes..the prominent of them being DLF, Puravankara , Sobha, Brigade, Omaxe, Ansal Properties, Mahindra Gesco, Peninsula Land! Most builders have been sitting on order book on thousands of crores..and the real estate prices have gone up thru the roof in the last 6 months alone- driving the speculation even more.

And all this means, sooner or later, these projects need to be delivered.

As a search firm, we are ourselves working on 4 mandates for CFOs for different clients- (thankfully across locations!) who would help in the financial structuring of these deals. There is a huge demand for Project Managers and Architects who have handled large scale projects – and so civil engineers with planning , design and execution experience are in shortage.

Increasingly MNC firms are eyeing JVs with Indian firms ( a la Lang O'Rourke with DLF, Emaar with MGF, Capital & Runwal group, Keppel Land & Puravankara), and professionals with exposure to working in PMCs ( project management consultancies ) and an international flavour of experience are in HOT demand!!

Professional Indians in the Middle East, Gulf, Asia Pac,…I hope you are realizing you are WANTED NOW –more than ever :-)!!!

Wanted returning Indians in Oil and Gas sector!!

If one thought only IT professionals from the US/Europe were being given red carpet welcome by the Indian corporates, here is some good news for those in the Middle East and Gulf!! Especially professionals in the Oil and Gas sector would find 2007 a great year to be wooed!!

It is time for the boom in the petrochemicals, petroleum and chemicals investment regions (PCPIRs) for oil companies!!

The government has identified the locations for setting up PCPIRs, mainly for the export market. According to the draft policy, the anchor tenant has to be a refinery or a petrochemical feedstock unit. Companies like Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Indian Oil (IOCL), Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL), Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) and Gail could take a lead in the seven zones identified by the government. Project sizes are rumoured to be as big as 3 billion USD!!

Not just the PSUs, there is an acute shortage of professional talent as private players like Reliance and MNC companies are also on the prowl!!

It is time for all those Indians working in the Chevrons, Exxons, Aramcos, BPs, start sprucing up their resumes and thinking about home!
Should you know of anyone open, please feel free to reach out to me :-)!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mercer HR Consulting names Best Companies to Work For in India

Mercer Human Resource Consulting is the global leader for trusted HR and related financial advice, products, and services-employing more than 15,700 employees serving clients across 190 cities and 41 countries and territories worldwide.

In a recent joint study with an Indian business magazine , some of their observations are that

* meaningful work and rewards, greater control over careers, increased focus on learning and development and individualised attention emerged as the key expectations of employees from organizations.
* The winners of the survey are companies who have made substantial investment in their people, infrastructure, facilities, technology and evolved HR systems. Stock options, flexi-timings, telecommuting, redressal and grievance committees, customized training and development opportunities, career management control and empowerment seem to be standard fare at these organizations.
*The inclusion of medium size organizations in the top ten rankings, reiterating the fact that investment in strong HR policies and employee development are not restricted to the "employee bloomers" -- organizations with more than 5000 employees, alone

*the differential between the top ten employers is clearly narrowing down and others are catching up fast!

* organizations are building an employer brand that goes beyond the four walls of the organization and encompasses the employees' families, alumni and the community at large

* And yes, the Best Companies to Work for in India 2006 are

1. Infosys
2. Mindtree Consulting
3. Satyam Computer Services
4. Dr Reddy's Labs
5. Sapient
6. Agilent Technologies
7. Johnson & Johnson
8. Covansys
9. HCL Comnet

An expatriate's account of "jobs in India"!!

Here are some interesting tidbits from a blog written by an expat! It is essentially in the context of challenges /opportunities for expatriates looking for professional assignments in India-be it short term, NGO , or corporate positions in India.

1.Compensation Rates: Even when a person has a job offer, the salary rates are exceedingly low. A “good” local salary is approximately 25% - 30% of what professionals would earn in the United States or Europe. Many positions pay far less.

2.High Touch in a High Tech Environment: In spite of the technology boom, networking and personal connections are still necessary to locate a satisfactory job.

3.Expatriates Work in Interesting Roles: Expatriates can find interesting, challenging roles, often with daily access to chief executive officers and policy-makers.
4. Buying Power of the Indian Rupee: A comparison of the relative purchasing power of India and the United States reveals that India’s per capita GDP of $523 provides $2,686 in purchasing power. In the US, a GDP of $35,000 purchases $37,000 worth of goods and services. Therefore, a rupee-denominated salary purchases many more local goods and services in India than the dollar equivalent salary buys goods and services in the US.

I shall probably add that while it is truly a validation of the thoughts and expressions made elsewhere in this blog regarding the salary expectations, it is reaffirming the impression..India is increasingly becoming a destination that one can't ignore for too long in future!

Happy hunting!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

BPOs waking up to attrition? Prevention better -no cure!!

BPO companies are beginning to realize that ‘no poach agreements’ really aren’t effective!!

Sudden ramp ups that follow client wins, have often meant attracting aspirants at a higher salary- as well as ignoring proper relieving letter and notice periods-both of which are only postponing the problem...

Earlier today, I was interacting with a hiring manager of one of the largest companies, and what he said was very enlightening. Quote

“How I personally am trying to manage is through showing my team members a strong career path and throwing intellectual challenges to them to keep them going. My company is not the best paymaster in the analytics market, however it caters to numerous businesses. So there is enough opportunity within the organization to pursue interests of an individual.

Thats an exposure that I bank upon to retain people. I tell them that if you stick to a place, it would be like an equity investment which would bear good returns in the long run.

I have been successful so far in keeping a score of 0% attrition in my team over 1.5 yrs. But there is little control that you have over the young mindset and personally I believe the salaries being offered today by organizations to attract people dont match up to the skill set that people bring to the organization. And nobody minds more money in the pocket !! Its a challenge for every manager which would last for another 2-3 yrs I guess.”

Is this just an exception..or the beginning??

Sunday, November 19, 2006

On setting up an Indian presence

I was reading a post on the importance of the recruiters to understand the nuances of the Indian job market and practices and can only reaffirm what Gautam expressed.

As a recruiter working across different industries, across the middle and senior management levels-and at times across different functions, my personal observations are

- the best FIT happens when the candidate fits the culture of the organization.
- the skills required for the start up team –to work in an uncertain environment, transplant and establish a system in place –may be distinctly different from those required to manage, motivate and retain a large pool of talent as the company grows!
- there is an increasing trend in mobility of Indian professionals –both within India, as well as those returning to India.

MNC companies setting up India operations would well be adviced to use international search firms with a strong India focus –or those with partners based in India. Or even pick a few members of the Executive Recruiters Association , representing over a hundred of the top professionally managed selection/search/staffing firms –some of them with pan India presence, and some others who work in niche markets, or with strong regional penetration.

As the war for talent increases, there is an increasing need to hire passive jobseekers who are more likely to be better fits than those who are actively seeking. One needs not just online recruiting tools to reach out, but also a very strong offline presence in India to be able to discern the best from the rest!

One of the most memorable interviews I attended!!

This was way back in 1984 and when we were in the final year of the MBA program –and the campus hiring season had just begun. In those days, there were only a few MNCs and large Indian corporates who did those campus visits (remember it was much before the liberalised India corporate world), and it was still ‘an employers market”. And we were part of the tier II management institutes and so the pick was that much lesser than the premier institutes! Most of us were to subsequently fend for jobs and opportunities on our own-often picking up the first job that came by!

Hindustan Levers, Crompton Greaves, ICICI, IDM, Balsara...were among the companies that visited-and one can still remember some of the chaos the group discussions created, as they filtered candidates- who would make it to the interview shortlist. In the heat of the moment, some arguments would turn ugly-often ending up in personal accusations, and suddenly, the months of friendships would be having the acid test as the ‘survival of the fittest’ happened !!

It is that context that I recall the interview process of Hoechst..the pharmaceutical company.( Sanofi Aventis of today!) –which was a very different experience.

Hoechst India had a dynamic HR head then- Mr George Menezes- who was, after his air-force and diplomatic stints, proud of leading an organization that hadn’t lost a single man-day of production due to labour unrest for 25yrs by then. After a very impressive preplacement talk, they went about the shortlist in a very scientific manner

-No group discussion!! (all MBA students would have gone thru a tough elimination round, and so their communication and analytic skills were taken for granted! )
-only personal interviews- Being a pharma company, the company wanted to consider only Pharma/Chemical Engineering and science graduates who could related to the core business!

That brought the aspirants to a handful –who were then interviewed individually-indepth- over an hour each by a panel of three.

Again, not much focus on fundas or jargons one expected in the interview!! The logic was simple. They weren’t looking for Einsteins! They were looking for bright young professionals, who could relate/interact with the existing team, be a good learner, and grow into positions of responsibility in time!! The management trainee would need to report to X, work along with some peers –and perhaps manage a bunch of people..all of whom were ‘known constants’. So, the accent was on finding a person who could FIT in to the culture of the organization. And would you believe, the questions varied from personal value systems, and beliefs, one’s reaction to reservation/caste systems, personal interests, work life balance, ..all meant to dissect the personality and understand him/her better. It was very foxing- for there were no right or wrong answers! No predetermined 'sales pitches' prepared by us could help. Just a long informal chat that enabled us to unwittingly reveal more than we ever could imagine.

Again, the emphasis was on to zero in to the attitude of the person. Given the right attitude, it is only a matter of time before knowledge and skills could be imparted to the candidate.

It is no wonder that the selected person – who after going thru the right foundation and the management training of Hoechst, has gone one to become a very succesful entrepreneur –now heading the leading Indian group of diagnostic companies- among the highest exporters, and employing over a 1000 employees in the state of Goa!!

To me, one of the rejects- the takeaway ? Help identifying those candidates who would not fit the long term interest of the corporates!! And more importantly, it has led me to my calling, helping over a thousand people find their calling by identifying the best/apt jobs they need to hone their skills on their way to professional and personal success!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

IT Job Market in India- tips by a returned Indian!!

Here is a chronicle by a returned Indian- who made the transition last year. It is a must read for all those prospective returning Indians- as he has tried to document his thoughts & experiences in the transition.

And this is what he has to say

1.The work environment in India-especially IT companies is very similar to that abroad!
2.Pay attention to a work-life balance.
3.Be willing to consider a drop in salary for a better quality of life.
4.The support systems for dual working couples are still arent adequate and it may be area of concern that should be debated even while contemplating the relocation to India.
5.The best option for the relocation is one –that is facilitated by your own employer!

As a recruiter,I would like to add-if you need to look outside your present employer to relocate to India, the best way to look for a job –is to make a 2 week trip to India and have a first hand feel of the Indian job market-especially considering that most would have gone to US for higher studies-without any “Indian “ corporate experience.

It would help in appreciating the realities and also set right some of ones expectations.And yes, what a employer wd evaluate in this case –is the "need to relocate" to India and the passion to make it a succesful career move!!

Happy hunting!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

American Companies reviewing 'team of twenty one ' India relocation strategy!

I came across an interesting blog by Sramana –written over a year ago Team-of-Twenty-One cautioning that those companies that are building 1000 people operations in one Indian city are making a mistake. Her advice to US companies then – “Try to find five GMs, each from a different city in India, and a core group of twenty somewhat experienced people with leadership qualities that would like to move back, to go with each GM.”

Well, a year and half later, this is happening!! And what better testimonials than the some of the bigger players-who have been investing in new locations recently –while still expanding their large development centres at the place they first landed!!

Some product development companies have presence in two cities (Microsoft, Google, Adobe, Oracle, Computer Associates,…), some three (Amazon, Motorola, recently nvidia…)- the services companies have more! IBM has ventured across the geography of India to cover six cities !! ( Bangalore, Chennai, Gurgaon,Hyderabad, Kolkota , Pune) !!

It is only a matter of time –when companies would encourage large scale telecommuting as a tool for attracting and retaining talent –rather than the low levels today almost doling it out as an exception!!?

Friday, November 10, 2006

US city invites Indian entrepreneurs to invest!!

I was fortunate to attend a meeting yesterday when Mr Roger Cranwell and Mr Girish Godbole evangelised Pittsburg -promoting the region to attract technology & manufacturing investments as the right place to invest in !

It was a place Mr Cranwell had spent 15 yrs (and Mr Godbole 22yrs)-and so it wasn't too difficult for them to list out the history of a city which houses Carnegie Mellon and Univ of Pittsburg, the home to Alcoa, Heinz, Ariba and Google's R&D-the low cost of doing business, better quality of life and a wonderful climate to top it all! It was remarkable to note that this was not being organised by the State or the Government-but purely an initiative of the industry..which has bonded the city after a major meltdown in early 90s of the local economy.

The program was organised by the TiE chapter, and iPort , and was attended by a sprinkling of local Hyderabadi entrepreneurs -the most prominent of them being Mr J A Chowdary (fresh from announcing the acquisition of Portal Player by nvidia! , Mr Jay Pullur of Pramati technologies.

There was also an announcement of a forthcoming meeting next week by the Pennsylvania department of community and economic development-also at Hyderabad-inviting investments to the "gateway of North America"!!

An indication of the rising Indian entrepreneur??

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tips on Career management by Mr R Gopalakrishnan Executive Director, Tata Sons

The Economic times has recently been bring out a series of articles by Mr R Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director , Tata Sons.

An IIT alumnus, and a 31 yr stint with the the Unilever group rising upto the Vice Chairman of Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL), and presently a director on several Tata group companies, it is very interesting to note some of his thoughts from daily life !!It is really enlightening for all those in the corporate race!!

In his latest piece, he tackles the question –is it the aim of a career to go far –or in the right direction?? The analogy of a club golfer's enthusiasm is so apt. They often hit the ball to see it soaring with speed-only to observe where it has either landed in a difficult spot or even got lost! The mature ones take a measured approach of landing the ball on the fairway at a spot where they want it to land. For them, the next stroke is as important as the first tee shot!! If you are very talented, you may learn to do both..take the right direction, distance will follow!!

Some of his words of wisdom from the the earlier articles in the series:

Enjoy what you and do what you enjoy! A career is not a destination, it is the journey

Learn from simple ideas and stories that surround you!

Management is about leadership — of people, of ideas, of markets. It is not merely about how far you go, and definitely not about doing what you are told to do, it is about doing what you are paid to do.

IT product companies paying whopping salaries in India

Compared to the professionals in consulting companies, the hi end techies are laughing all the way to the bank, says an article in today’s Economic times!

The salary differential between US and India is decreasing in some sectors.

The reasons

1.The flocking of large number of research, development and product firms have put a lot of pressure on the engineering talent reserve in the country, therefore the "remuneration factor'' became the only differentiator.

2.Venture capital companies are increasingly willing to fund research and products firms.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Senior level jobs with KPO, software and hospitality

Here are some interesting assignments we are currently working on. If you need any information about them or want to apply for them send your resumes to me at [email protected] or call me at +91-98490-40820 .

We're looking for a Country Manager to head a KPO unit. NRI's who are looking to relocate to India would be a great fit !

We are also looking for a CFO position in the hospitality sector. Check out the posting for details about the client and expectations from the CFO.

A great role that we are also looking at is Sales head of a software firm to be based out of Chennai.

Are you suitable for these senior level jobs with our clients?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

India's highest paid professionals

The latest issue of Business India is on the stands-and presents their annual survey of India’s best paid executives.

The salient points

  • The survey is based on the annual reports of companies for the year 2005-06. A list of over 850 executives –and their employers/designations –have salaries above the cutoff figure of Rs 50lacs pa. The highest is Rs 24crores –Mr Mukesh Ambani!
  • The average pay increase in the last five 5yrs is 11.5% in India (compared to 7.5% in China)
  • Indian companies are increasingly imitating American style pay practices, particularly performance based compensation like bonuses and stock options- to retain their top employees. One can expect more innovativeness and increase on the variable salary side rather than the fixed compensation.
  • Increasing trend of ‘signing bonus’ –especially in the financial sector. The flip side-candidates are misbehaving –backing out at the last minute.
  • CEO compensation is approaching world levels-as India is now seen as a major market and not just as a back office operation.

Interesting to note :

  • Many of India’s largest companies are in the public sector. The salaries of the CEOs are pathetic. In fact, the difference in CEO pay between the private and public sector is as much as 100 times!
  • Many of the Indian companies are privately held and so their annual remuneration is a secret affair. Almost every industry ( commercial banking, investment banking, private equity, insurance, telecom,and media) have hundreds of them hidden in their midst!
  • The survey doesn’t cover MNC salaries, management consultants, advertising agencies…and clearly the cutoff of 50lacs would have had many more numbers.
  • Curiosly, hefty compensation alone cannot guarantee retention and loyalty. Many executives are choosing job content and company culture over big bucks! HR professionals are in a dilemma balancing rapid business growth amidst high attrition levels.
  • Yes, there is a wide chasm between the highest and the lowest paid employees within a company..often the disparity is about 100 times… the super rich are becoming marvelously rich !!!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Peanuts, Cashewnuts and the way ahead!?

On Thursday, I happened to have an interesting chat with a senior doyen of the Indian Industry. Past Chairman of Southern Region of CII ( confederation of Indian Industry), his group has interests across different fields.. banking, finance, education, healthcare, hospitality among others!!

We got around to talking about the new economy, changing perceptions of entrepreneurs, increasing demands of job seekers, and rightly so-the challenges of balancing it all together.

He recalled the adage :’Pay peanuts-and get monkeys”! Are cashew nuts the solution??

What do we do to find the right talent??

I had just made another visit to Gurgaon-and the growing city just baffled me-one sees lot of action in infrastructure all around-roads, huge commercial spaces, equally enormous malls-but where are the people? The young recruiter of a large BPO had just briefed me that his company had hired over 10000 people this year…and their present employee strength was about a thousand lesser!!? The pressure on recruiting targets was just mind boggling-the target for this week alone was close to a 200 joinees!! And all this activity just wasn’t in a bid for expansion…they were just trying to fill up positions that fell vacant due to attrition!!

Is it high time we stopped looking for instant gratification? Is rampant poaching of ready made or even half baked talent really giving the desired results…?

Did the forerunners in the Indian ITES/BPO industry –do the right thing in glamourising the work culture? Is it ingraining that short term gains are the only way out? With employees not seeing any ‘visible value adds’ in their early and young career, see the only way out to ‘jump jobs’ and equate higher salaries –as the indices of growth??

Will the boom that came India’s way, just pass off …as another ‘dotcom ‘fever’?

Can one instead ‘farm talent’?

Ironically among some of the measures the legendary Jack ‘neutron’ Welch did was to institute the Six Sigma program- developed to maximize the efficiency of manufacturing processes through the minimization of production of defective units. When applied at General Electric it became the largest quality-control measure ever adopted in corporate America. Can you imagine, they had hired over 200 engineers (Defence officers with strong people management skills and ZERO commercial exposure) and put them through 2 years of orientation across the different departments of GE that they have the business acumen ? The program required a huge investment in training and tracking but ultimately led to great gains in profit and productivity.

Can we learn..and react before it is too late? Who will bell the cat??

The "cool" Finance Minister

I was away in Delhi and Gurgaon for a few client meetings this week

The biggest take away for me…was a very brief interaction with the one of the architects of the Indian economy…none other than the Finance Minister P Chidambaram!!

Delhi Airport- I had checked in for the 830 pm flight-and most flights were delayed due to the heavy congestion at the airport…when I see a very familiar face walking very measuredly, the traditional mundu –dragging his overnighter-and came and sat a few seats security –no chamchas, no bureaucrats..all alone-just like any other passenger!!

Most of us were awed just staring..not sure if it was real! Couple of people ventured across to seek his permission to talk-but the stern NO, sorry , NO..was enough to indicate he was busy –as he took out a booklet and started studying – a whole lot of tables of economic indicators.

Something was serious..for he then had a long chat –comparing the numbers with some one-for almost half an hour when the airport authorities came and patiently tried for his attention to indicate his flight was ready.

To me..he was one of my heroes. One of the people who has contributed my career and worklife!! I was fortunate to carry the latest issue of the Business World..which had a photograph of the FM launching the Asia Pac edition of the Harvard Business Review recently. I waited for him to put his phone down..and requested him for an autograph!!

GOOD WISHES…he wrote –along with his signature!! And as I almost yanked out my ‘cross’ pen from his hand, he seemed to think I was taking his pen natural for him to glance at his pocket –before letting go –with a look of little reliefJ!

As I got into the AirDeccan flight to Hyderabad –a few minutes later, there he was again. Sitting at the window near the emergency exit- this time he was careful. He has plonked his books on the next seat..a very obvious hint for all for his privacy! We reached Hyd a little past midnight..

Todays Economic times screams…FM Spots Signals of Overheating in economy

Aren't we all responsible? Compulsive/impulsive (?) Job hoppers..HR managers, recruitment consultants, media hype..high attrition rates..increased consumerism, more spending power..all adding to the inflationary trends?? Is the bubble going to bust ?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Dataquest best employers survey in the IT industry

The leading mag DATAQUEST had published a Employers Survey in September 2006. The survey covered 250 IT companies across 7 cities-and further shortlisted 32 companies to conduct an employee satisfaction index. The top 20 can be seen here.

There are some interesting observations:-

  • More than 50% of the companies that made it to the Top 20 this year are niche players. Take for example Induslogic and Aztecsoft. The two are among the Top 10 star employers and both specialize in outsourced product engineering. Employees in these companies get to work on high-end technology and hardcore product development and that's the primary differentiator with the likes of Infosys and Wipro.
  • Interestingly, according to the survey, while employees do not see salary as the most critical component of their dream job, it remains the most important reason for taking up a new job - over 54% respondents sighted salary as the topmost consideration for a new job.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


This is an excerpt from an article I wrote in 2004.

Some of the aspiring “returnees” expectations and experiences:

  • “I would like to get an offer while still in the U.S.”
  • “Applying through corporate employment websites returns only a faceless automated response.”
  • “Going to job fairs involves standing in queues and handing over resume to the person behind the desk who doesn’t respond with more than “we will get back to you later.”
  • “I am coming to India on a two-week trip and would be visiting 3 cities-am open to meeting some corporate members to explore job opportunities.”

On the other hand, speaking to returning Indians have fetched some unanimous responses about the HR machinations:

  • “There are numerous jobs advertised on the jobsites and the newspapers, yet somehow the interviews don’t indicate the same urgency.”
  • “Placement firms also do the same thing—they project a requirement as if you are going to be called tomorrow, but for months you don’t hear from them! This gives the impression that they only wanted to get your resume for future reference. Generally speaking, India needs to mature in many aspects relating to placement, interview process and giving the candidates their due.”
  • “There are multiple levels of interviews—with the HR and technical teams in India, the U.S. technical team, and so on. The expectations of each of the panels are different—are they serious of about hiring?”
  • “During the interview, I was telling them about how I manage tasks and they were looking for more micro-management skills in my resume. They said that the developers in India are not as responsible with their assigned tasks!”

Those who successfully get into jobs are eventually heading for a culture shock.

  • “I end up working 10-12 hours a day for 6 days a week.”
  • “When you realize that you will not be able to make more than 35-40 percent of what you were making in the U.S., it may disappoint the candidate, but one has to face the reality that the cost of living in India is much cheaper than what it is in the U.S.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Skills in demand in India

Where are the jobs of the future? What are the kind of talent that Indian industry needs in the next year or two??

In the past decade, the predominant skills that Indian companies have been looking for, in returning Indians, have been changing!!

At a recentNASSCOM event, Dr Ajay Kela of Symphony Services gave a glimpse of the ‘fourthwave of the Indian industry’ - in a bid to move up the value chain.

Some of the HOT openings that we come across regularly are as below

-Engineering /R& D head positions for Product companies. People with strong technological skills to provide leadership-apart from handling complex matrix relationships with CXO positions in the corporate office (US/Europe)

-Consulting opportunities, again in cutting edge technologies,with an ability to evangelise adoption across businesses.

-Delivery head positions across different domains. Typically a management role with accent on client management and hands-on expertise in handling offshoring /onsite dynamics.

-With India becoming an important market for telecom and BFSI segments, lot of VCs are interested in scaling up midsize companies with various offerings in the segments. Professionals with strong marketing acumen –in addition to the techies are in high demand!

-Ofcourse in the traditional IT and ITES sectors, there are opportunities across the width of applications ( BFSI, Insurance, Logistics, Manufacturing,…) for persons with experience in handling multiple projects/client engagements –especially across remote development centres.

With the infrastructure industry opening, those with operational experience internationally setting up highways, airports and townships are welcome! The country is witnessing a boom in all the segments- commercial, residential, retail ( read malls, multiplexes) and hotels.

Finance professionals with expertise in compliances (eg SOX) and ability to raise funds with innovative products are those to watch out for!

And we aren’t even talking of the pharma, biotech, retail, engineering process outsourcing, KPO, market intelligence,….

Are we all geared up to meet the challenge? Do shoot me a brief note on how you can add value to the Indian corporate, and who knows- I shall be glad to put you onto a prospect!!

Seeking a job in India - Or a Career?

As a recruiter handling recruitment of executives with international experience, I get at least one phone call a day from an aspiring returnee-and the queries/comments usually are very similar!

How can one can land a great gig, with companies that are going global and in companies that were non-existent a few yrs ago, without actually moving to India and searching from the sidelines for 3-6 months?

Even a recent passout from the ISB got over a crore of rupees- !!

Not a single company has responded to the resume I have sent

Most jobs are posted anyway by the consultants. All they do is make us fill questionnaires –and then say “ we shall get back”!!

I know of people who have moved back to India on a dollar salary..

No one responds to mails!!

All they want to know is qualifications and yrs of experience..
The debate can go on –and on. And everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

My own personal take- is that the solution lies in the approach we take! When one goes abroad for an overseas assignment, one is willing to look at the move as a long term career move. It is accepted that one has to work one’s way up the ladder, rung by rung- prepared to add on skills required for the career transition for success abroad!

But when one plans to come back to India-is one justified to expect everything on a platter??

Is the job market in India significantly different –say from US or Europe?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

On salary confidentiality

An Anonymous comment I recieved on the blog stated:

Can I ask why so few of these sites make reference to salary, it is difficult to consider a role when you have no idea about the earning potential.
It is an interesting question-especially since the media goes overboard in carrying stories of ‘exceptional salaries’-and most of our acquaintances are experts in quoting who is getting paid how much!!

(As a recruiter who has access to the psyche of both the employers and the employees, let me share a secret. Both parties are equally anxious about getting the best deal :)! And yes, most often the market forces take care of both their interests…)

To a returning Indian, I would advice one to keep an open mind & just look at the role, the scope and the challenges it would provide –am sure the salary would automatically fall in place!

- designations differ among companies in the same industry and so often can be misnomers. ( A Vice President in an American company has more responsibility than a Director- while the opposite is true in most European/Indian companies!)

- roles in differing sizes of companies have different challenges

- each company has a compensation policy – pegged with its business operations and keeping in view the competition. ( Contrary to popular conception, Microsoft is not the greatest paymaster- One third of the industry pays higher!!)

- all companies would hence have a bandwidth within which they operate-essentially as there are already people in the system –and paid commensurately.

Believe me, no employer-after having spent enormous management time, engaged you in a series of discussions, and finding a role most suitable keeping the value add you bring to the table, would hate to antagonize an employee by ‘shortchanging' !! However confidential the salary figures are, it wouldn’t take any employer more than a few weeks to understand the same –and that’s a risk not many ‘service companies that revel on intellectual capital’ would like to take!

In that context, for those already employed in India-the typical salary jump one expects is 20-25% on the last drawn salary.

Money isn't the topmost reason for changing jobs

Heres an interesting interview with Iain Herbertson, managing director of Manpower Asia Pacific on the challenges of finding and retaining talent in India

According to a survey done by them, the top reasons executives left their jobs was

1.because they felt they weren’t receiving enough training in new skills. development

3 more money!

Very critical, as he further admits-
“India has robust employment growth in key sectors. Even as the economy grows at 7-8 per cent, the services sector’s growth is nearly three times that. Hence the pressure on finding, acquiring and retaining top talent is only going to increase.

Indian companies will have to address this challenge seriously because businesses in India will soon be people restrained. They will not be restrained by capital or by manufacturing capabilities, but by the lack of the right people.

That’s good news..but are we as professionals geared up to deliver??

Coming to think of it, have you done any audit for yourself..-what are the skills you need to possess & how do you propose to achieve them??

Sunday, October 15, 2006

How to search for a job in India

If you are interested to move to India from another country some of the most popular ways of finding jobs in India are :

  1. with one's present employer –setting up India ODC (both captive/vendor)
  2. exploring with past employers ( with whom one may have worked before moving out of India) who have major India presence
  3. reaching out to family /friends who have already made the transition
  4. attending India specific jobfairs time and again (eg
  5. browsing jobsites in India ( eg,
  6. applying to companies directly based on their campaigns (eg Wipro's Return2India site)
  7. browsing other websites like
  8. contacting recruitment consultancies
The best way ofcourse –is to use a judicious mix of some of the above –at the same time ensuring there is not any duplication of work or effort. One certainly would not want to see the same resume reach the same hiring manager –from multiple sources!!

I shall be glad to share my experiences- as a predominantly contingent search player –with a fair share of ‘retained search assignments’ and also as a specialist in touch with returning/ returned Indians who have reached out to me personally. We work extensively on middle and senior management positions
  • both directly with some of the best names in the industry
  • as well as closely /indirectly with a network of similar minded recruitment firms
  • across major cities in India
  • who are keen to hire professionals with international flavour
  • please check out our site for some of the “not so confidential" openings we have worked on recently!!

Happy hunting !!

Searching for jobs in India

Returning to India?

I guess there are a lot of views expressed over time and debated !!

I used to be a moderator of the jobs forum in late nineties –before SIFY bought over the above site in early 2000!

In late 2000, I did have the pleasure of personally meeting about 50 odd professionals who expressed a desire of returning to India –in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Columbus, Chicago, the Silicon Valley and Redmond!!

Most of them –then were mostly looking at India for personal reasons-and weren't exactly sure if it was really alright to leave US and come back. Looking back – most issues discussed revolved around how India had changed from the time most had left it!! The education, the quality of life, …and an occasional reference to what kind of job could one expect!!

Well, lot has happened since. The dotcom boom, the outsourcing phenomenon, … Now, in 2006, the India phenomenon is a given fact.

Most of the people who return today-are doing so –for professional reasons. A stint in India (or in China) –is certainly a MUST for the global professional today. In fact, there is a school of thought..that perhaps not moving to India now..may not be a smart idea after all!!

Over the last 7 years, I have personally interacted with more than a few hundred professionals exploring opportunities in India-by mail, by phone, over lots of personal meetings across major cities in India (while they were on their vacation/official visits) !

This blog is an attempt to address some of the concerns raised by some of them. I shall be glad if some of you could give me pointers so that we can find the best use of this forum!!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Pay hike unlikely when you call it quits?

From ET:In a buoyant market with so many job opportunities, one would expect corporates to keep their employees happy –and go any extent to retain them!! A recent report indicates that the company is more likely not to accede to a hike in salary.

Me thinks the inflection point is –when the employee actually has to look beyond his present job/employment to find what he loves doing.

So it is imperative for the HR fraternity find innovative tactics to keep the person engaged so as to preempt one to looking for greener pastures!

- Cannot jobs for some of the key people be designed with them as the fulcrum? Build a role around the professional?

- Can telecommuting be a solution?

- Some may even take a drop in salaries to handle for a better work-life balance?

- Since most people anyway leave “their bosses” and not so much the company, isn't it easy to realign the reporting structure ?

Isn't it ironical most often –the new incumbent comes in at a higher salary……….taking into considerations the market conditions ?

CFOs in demand

And so are the expectations from an ideal CFO!!

At a power breakfast held in Hyderabad earlier this week, the present day CFO was portrayed to be a ‘new age financial superman’!!

The “bean grower” takes over from the one erstwhile ‘bean counter’. The emphasis has changed to governance, and increasingly support CEOs in strategy, planning and Decision making.

During the last fortnight, we recruiters – seem to be flooded with enquiries for CFOs!! The infrastructure industry being in a boom- there are quite a few JVs being announced –and any professional with experience in the hotel/hospitality industry is in demand. The manufacturing industries are seeing M&As which are spearheaded by the CFOs.

Should you know of such professionals, please let me know :-)! ( openings exist in Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad for my clients offhand!!)

Friday, October 13, 2006

More hiring in October to December' 06

Its good news for all those seeking to shift jobs!! According to a survey done by Teamlease, India’s largest staffing company, covering close to 500 companies across the top metros in the country-the present quarter (Oct to Dec) promises to be very exciting.

As a recruiter – I have always tried to map quarters to see if ever there was a pattern in the hiring of professionals across ‘seasons’!!

Oct to Dec was always a good quarter for sales guys in the office automation/IT/capital intensive equipment-as corporates waited for the kill in the “JFM “quarter (meaning Jan- Mar)- as most government companies wd need to utilize their budgets- and private companies wd take advantage of booking depreciation for the financial year!

Ever the right time for corporates to shift gears-mid year !!

I often wonder if it has got to do with the performance appraisals and ‘salary revision’ time in June..and so, both the happy ones –who have got great hikes- and more so, the have nots…start looking for greener pastures :-)!!

Any one complaining??!